R.I.P. Sid Haig, the horror icon who appeared all over classic television
Watch the episode where he played a mummy alongside Lucille Ball.
Where does one begin when looking at the career of Sid Haig? His movie credits number in the dozens; his television credits reach well into the three digits. So, perhaps the easiest place to begin is, well, the beginning.
In the spring of 1962, The Untouchables was nearing the end of its third season. "The Case Against Eliot Ness" centered around the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. The characters were a typical mix of Windy City bigwigs and gangsters. Way down the cast list, credited as "Augie the Hood," was Sid Haig. It would be his first TV credit.
A few years later, he made his first significant "horror" appearance in one of the most unlikely places — alongside Lucille Ball. In the "Lucy and the Monsters" episode of The Lucy Show, Haig portrayed the Mummy, though it was hard to recognize him behind those bandages.
His filmography snowballed from there. The California native quickly became a familiar face in genre productions, particularly Westerns and sci-fi. Notably, he was a Batman baddie, one of King Tut's henchmen dubbed Royal Apothecary in "The Spell is Tut" and "Tut's Case Is Shut." You can see him in the role prominently in the foreground in the image up top.
Haig had still not developed his signature look — beard and bald head — that would become as iconic to horror fans as any Universal monster. Actually, he remained pretty tough to spot in shows, especially Star Trek, where he played the eerily hooded First Lawgiver in "The Return of the Archons."
He reunited with Leonard Nimoy in several episodes of Mission: Impossible. He turned up in a handful of Gunsmoke episodes. He was a fellow called Señor Quesada on The Flying Nun. He played various toughs in action shows like Mannix, The Rockford Files and Charlie's Angels.
By the 1970s, the towering figure had developed his signature look. He was the perfect image of a Ming the Merciless–esque space villain, which he indeed played on series such as Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Jason of Star Command.
Along the way, on the big screen, be came a regular presence in cult movies helmed by Roger Corman and Jack Hill. He also worked with George Lucas (THX 1138) and James Bond (Diamonds Are Forever).
In the early 1990s, Haig had his fill of typecasting. "I'll never play another stupid heavy again," he is quoted as saying, "And I don't care if that means that I never work, ever."
Of course, he would work again. A new generation of filmmakers weaned on the cult cinema of the '60s and '70s recognized the talents of Haig. Quentin Tarantino (of course) cast him as a judge in Jackie Brown. But his true revival came when shock-rocker Rob Zombie cast Haig in his debut feature, House of 1000 Corpses (2003). His twisted character Captain Spaulding again appeared in The Devil's Rejects.
Our own Svengoolie, Rich Koz, had this to say about Haig:
"Like a lot of horror fans, I first knew Sid from his work with Rob Zombie — but then, after seeing him in Get Smart, and then countless other MeTV shows, I have been so impressed by his lengthy career! Sadly, I never met him, but anyone who did always remarked about what a nice guy he was!"
Haig died on Saturday, September 21. His wife broke the news on his Instagram page. He was 80 years old.
Below, you can watch his early appearance alongside Lucille Ball on The Lucy Show.